Republicans Dance Around ‘Development’ During Debates

Phoenix Cityscape, completed 2013-2014.
Phoenix Cityscape, completed  2013-2014. Land Owner: City of Phoenix.
Just over two weeks remaining before the primary, and Arizona’s potential Republican chief executives have circumvented public discussions about the real estate market, and the return of cranes to Arizona’s skies.

Yet the state’s historic reliance on construction was the first of several economy related topics at the Republican Forum for Arizona Governor at the Arizona Historical Society in Tempe, July 21.

KJZZ Radio journalists Mark Brodie and Steve Goldstein interviewed the panel of governor hopefuls in front of an audience of about 200.

There was noticeably less shouting than during KAET’s televised dialogue the night before.

Revenue, immigration, school funding, and lawsuits against the Obama Administration garnered most specifics both nights, as well as most passion.

But sprinkled between plans to eliminate state income tax and line the Arizona-Mexico border with sheriff’s deputies, a few of the GOP candidates generally supported cooperation between public and private sectors to encourage business.

There have been dozens of cooperative efforts between developers and public entities statewide  since the real estate market tanked in 2007, and each candidate saluted – in his or her own way – population and business growth as vital to Arizona economy.

However, only former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith pointed to an actual example of publicly supported development.

“Apple came to Mesa and was a five-year-overnight success story,” Smith said with a little dry wit.

Mesa’s annexation and installation of infrastructure in the far east-valley lured the tech-god away from California and Texas (and potentially other east valley cities) to invest $2 Billion in a Mesa factory.

“I looked at our city and said, ‘we can’t simply be a boat out here in the stream and go wherever the wind takes us,” Smith said.

He didn’t elaborate on the mechanisms his city used to secure the deal with Apple, which included state tax deferrals and support for a foreign free trade zone.

The project evolved into what is now DMB’s five-mile, master-planned destination community of Eastmark, located just off the 202 between Elliot and Pecos Roads.

Smith’s reference to the Apple/Eastmark development was the most specific during the debate.

“For a long time the State has relied upon population growth as a way to stimulate the economy,” Brodie asked former California Congressman Frank Riggs. “Is it time to rely upon something else?”

Riggs, a Veteran, was a California Congressman for about seven years.

He is a former police detective, real estate investor, and charter school developer.

He didn’t directly answer Brodie’s question.

“We want a diversified economy,” he said “Our recovery from the recession has been tepid.”

Riggs said he aims to improve Arizona schools and proposes to allow businesses to write off same year investments.

“The Feds have put more and more land – not the parks – out of the hands of improvement,” he said in an interview after the debate. “I want more state and local control.”

Riggs suggested the State Land Department could work to convince the Federal Government to release land in Arizona to generate more revenue for education.

Goldstein put a similar question about growth to current Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who also sidestepped:

“Every level of government seems to complain about un-funded mandates, and then for some reason turns around and does the same thing to the levels below them,” he said after recapping his political career as a Prescott City Councilman and State Senate President.

Bennett’s campaign website listed his support for freeing up federal land for state use, as well as a promise to immediately cease all State General Fund sweeps and restore funding to cities and towns for infrastructure.

“Growth is a gift,” answered Doug Ducey, founder and former C.E.O. of Cold Stone Creameries.“A Ducey administration will work with any business to encourage growth.”

Christine Jones, former C.E.O. of Scottsdale based GoDaddy.com, made several specific suggestions for incentivizing small businesses throughout the night, such as eliminating redundant tax filings and local business permitting.

However, her comments regarding development were limited to encouraging conservation of water and supporting Arizona’s water authorities.

“Simple public service announcement: this is a desert, conserve the water,” she said.

More Examples of Public Cooperation:

Marina Heights "State Farm" Project. Land Owner: Arizona State University.
Marina Heights “State Farm” Project. Land Owner: Arizona State University.

Meanwhile, less than two miles away from the debate, the self-touted largest commercial land development project in Arizona’s history grows closer to completion at downtown Tempe’s urban lakeside.

State Farm Insurance contracted with Ryan Companies and Sunbelt Holdings to build a 20-acre mixed-use campus which will house 8,000 insurance related jobs.

Competition for the regional administration hub volleyed between Texas, California, and several other states before landing permanently in Tempe, reportedly for its proximity to students training in business at Arizona State University.

Marina Heights, so dubbed for its premier frontage along Tempe Town Lake, is also expected to include residences, shops, and restaurants for employees and the public.

By leasing the land from ASU – a state agency – Ryan and Sunbelt were allowed to defer state tax payments until after the project’s completion, saving developers millions in financing as well.

Despite the extra scrutiny (and bureaucracy) implied by government ownership, it is widely acknowledged the project didn’t stand a chance without local and state cooperation.

Yet, neither the significance nor the implications of this joint venture between private developers and government were discussed at either Republican debate, nor the mechanism(s) that foster such developments.

City ownership isn’t rare in Arizona cities.

State law prohibits “gifting” tax abatements to private entities outright, and therefor requires municipalities or the state to lease the land, and freeze or exempt taxes to developers.

Though politically touchy, The Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET) allows developers to bring something besides powerpoint animations to financiers.

Freeport McMoRan Inc. & Westin Hotel. Land Owner: City of Phoenix.
Freeport McMoRan Inc. & Westin Hotel. Land Owner: City of Phoenix.

During five years of frozen capital, downtown Phoenix contributed the land for at least two commercial towers, a boutique hotel, several state-of-the-art educational facilities, renovated several deteriorating buildings, and oversaw the creation of Arizona’s first privately owned public park – Cityscape Pioneer Square.

Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, and Tucson – to name only a few – have also used similar ownership/tax abatement strategies to resuscitate their downtowns into destinations for living and entertainment.

These financing strategies weren’t inspired by creativity alone. They’ve come ostensibly backed by promises of job creation and tax revenue. Their success varies.

Dancing Around Development:

Although subdivision permits aren’t flooding municipal coffers at anything close to pre-recession levels, Arizonans now flock to old banks, grocery stores, and gas stations for gourmet cuisine or their daily caffeine rush thanks to un-conventional developers, business owners, and city planners.

Neither criticism nor praise for any of the creative thinking that occurred during worst economy since the Great Depression have been raised in public debates by the GOP Gubernatorial candidates.

The candidates have simply been uninterested in discussing it, begging the question: does development– publicly incentivized or not – even register with Republican voters anymore?

Disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney and Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Thomas did not participate July 21.

He had no comments regarding growth or development the night before.

The Primary Election will be held August 26.

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AZ’s Immigration Hearings: Eyewitness SB1070 Play-by-Play

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED TUCSON SENTINEL ONLINE, 7/22/10 (see below story)

WHAT’S IN THIS STORY:  Environment in and out of the courtoom, Arizona’s case-in-chief, Fed’s Case-in-chief, Humanitarian groups’ case-in-chief, What else the Judge wanted from Feds, Tea Party comments, Citizen Comments

IN THE COURTROOM

PHOENIX – U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton adjourned Thursday without giving any hint as to how she will rule on two separate motions seeking to prevent SB 1070 from becoming effective July 29.

Bolton heard arguments from lawyers in two suits, as they sought preliminary injunctions to keep the anti-illegal immigration law, also known as the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” from taking effect next week.

Twice during the day, spectators filled the grand, circular courtroom on the second floor of the Sandra day O’Connor U.S. District Courthouse, 401. W. Washington St., in Phoenix.

They huddled shoulder to shoulder, suit to suit as they filled about seven rows of seats in the courtroom as well as the entire observation rotunda above.

Not a cell phone nor pager could be heard all day as lawyers, journalists, political officials and court personnel hung on every word exchanged between Bolton, the plaintiffs, and the defendants.

The beating of drums and chanting of anti-SB1070 slogans by protesters outside, and the frequent honking from passing cars could not be heard once the courtoom doors were closed.

Natural light from the opaque glass atrium that rose five stories above the couroom helped to keep attention focused on Bolton and her sharp questioning of the attorneys.

The federal government sued the state two weeks ago, alleging Arizoan “crossed a constitutional line,” when it enacted SB1070.

The Justice Department maintained in the suit that Arizona’s proposed law “conflicts and undermines,” national immigration policies.

Plaintiffs in the morning hearing sought injunctions to prevent each of Arizona’s 15 county sheriffs and 15 county attorneys – all of whom were named personally in the suit – from using the new powers provided by 1070 to detain and investigate immigration status.

 

MORNING HEARING: THE CASE AGAINST THE COUNTIES

Nina Perales, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education fund, sued the counties alongside the ACLU and National Immigration Law center, on behalf of over 20 humanitarian and non profit groups.

“SB 1070 effectively criminalizes being here without permission. By failing to carry registration documents your subject to prosecution or jail time,” she told the court.

Perales argued Sb1070 not only oversteps state jurisdiction in immigration enformcement but raises imminent threats to the safety of citizens and their civil rights.

Currently, the U.S. government prioritizes the deportation of undocumented citizens suspected of being dangerous or repeat felons, reserving discretion to deem non-dangerous, undocumented persons to be “in transition.”

The feds can also sanction fines instead of deportation, afford asylum, or offer immunity in exchange with cooperation in other situations of national interests.

The state of Arizona cannot deport citizens under SB1070.

“Many law enforcement agencies are ramping up traffic stops relying on them for immigration reform,” Perales told Bolton when asked to provide evidence the new provisions will result in unreasonable roadside stops. “Somebody can do something to commit a (traffic) crime inadvertently.”

Perales said in a private interview after the hearing that the final version of the bill was broadened from its original wording to allow officers more situations in which to assess immigration status.

“It’s all fair game now if it goes into effect,” she said.

Racial profiling – basing traffic stops, detentions or arrests on a subject’s ethnicity – is generally illegal under federal law.

The re-drafted version of SB1070 (current) also prohibits using race, color or national origin as a basis for “reasonable suspicion … except to the extent permitted by the United Sates or Arizona Consitution.”

The law does not provide any insight into acceptable measures of citizenship but training documents and video provided by the Arizona Peace Officer’s Training Board do list factors that can be considered in forming reasonable suspicion.

Thomas Liddy, representing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who was not present at the hearing), argued that the claims against the state and counties were inappropriate in federal district court.

“The proper forum is for the Department of State and the U.S. Congress,” he said.

Bolton later asked ACLU attorney Omar C. Jadwat, “Who am I to tell the state of Arizona that they can’t enforce existing powers granted by the federal government?”

Jadwat said Sb1070 poses a threat to civil rights and imminent harm because the language could extend to passengers in vehicles, witnesses to accidents, victims of crime, those seeking asylum or anyone who came into contact with an officer investigating any claim of any incident.

 

AFTERNOON HEARING: MAKING A FEDERAL CASE OF IT

Thursday afternoon’s hearing was part of a suit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, which named Gov. Jan Brewer as the defendant.

Justice asked the judge to keep SB 1070 from taking effect, rejecting the state’s claim that it merely wants to help enforce current immigration laws.

U.S. Deputy Solciitro Edwin S. Keedler presented the case against Brewer, who was present for the hearing.

“This is a nation of immigrants. There’s a (national) policy of welcoming immigrants, visitors, trade, there are humanitarian concerns for people who come here without permission initially,” Keedler told Bolton. “Enforcement itself provides a broad range of possibility of prosecution.”

According to keedler, Congress has never criminalized the mere presence of an undocumented person in the United States and left the ultimate discretion to enforce immigration law to the federal government as a way to balance competing interests.

“The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests,” read the Justice motion for an injunction.

Keedler did not raise any civil rights issues but maintained that Congress specifically allowed for a federal regulation of immigration to make sure that no state can cause disruptions in foreign relationsi.

He argued instead that Arizona violated the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which specifically reserves immigration enforcement for the federal government.

Keedler said the criminal statutes Arizona cited in SB1070 to establish its authority were intended to prosecute smugglers, not non-violent persons residing in the state without documentation.

Brewer has been unable to substantiate her public claims that most illegal aliens crossing Arizona’s borders are drug smugglers or other criminals.

Keedler argued that federal authorities will not have the resources to respond to Arizona’s request to investigate the immigration status of a suspected undocumented person.

“Can you really say this is pre-emptive because you’re going to receive too many calls?” Bolton asked.

She pressed Keedler to provide reasons beyond the supremacy clause and previous rulings as to why she should halt  the law.

“The problem comes from the state mandating how officers will assist in carrying out federal law,” keedler responded.

John J. Bouma of Phoenix firm Snell and Wilmer represented the state and Brewer.

He argued in both hearings that the federal governments failure to curb illegal immigration in Arizona warrants the state’s participation in the process.

“Congress isn’t doing it, but Convress hasn’t told us we can’t do it,” Bouma told Bolton. “Congress said they want one, national, uniform system and we have one. They haven’t done anything to stop the states.”

Decisions in both cases are expected by attorneys by the July 29 effective date.

“She’s not going to strike down 1070,” said John J. Baoma, attorney for Brewer and the state.

Keedler declined to comment after the hearing.

“(Bolton) certainly understands the dangers Arizonanas face as to the harboring of illegals in the state of Arizona,” Brewer said in a press conference after the hearing. “I’m very confident Arizona will prevail.”

MALDEF’S Perales said she felt “encouraged” that Bolton is “doing a really careful job of going over the statute section by section, provision by provision, and that’s the best we can hope for.”

“We would like to see the legislature abandon any plans to create an independent immigration scheme,” she said.

Perales avoided answering questions on whether oan injunction would be granted. “It’s very hard to predict what the judge is going to do,” she said. “we expect a decision probably before July 29. We think the judge is sensitive to the arguments of the parties and the need of the state and police for clarification.”

CITIZEN REACTION

As Bolton and attorneys split hairs over congressional intent and even the definintion of the word “arrest,” about 150 demonstrators outside the courthouse excesised their rights to express opinions in a less-subdued manner.

Some carried signs that denounced SB 1070 as racist, hateful, and illegal. Some wore t-shirts warning of political retribution: We will remember in November.”

Others drifted through the crowd cautiously passing out pro-SB 1070 literature

Across Washington Street, ASU business student Bryan Berkland held up a sign supporting SB 1070.

“Using the supremacy clause is a joke,” he said of the Justice Department’s legal tactics. “you could be purple, blue, Irish, or Mexican. If you’re breaking the law, you’re breaking the law.”

OUTSIDE, THE GREATER PHOENIX TEA PARTY WEIGHS IN

“All SB 1070 does is allow (the state) to enforce the current laws,” said Kelly Townsend, president of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party, before the morning hearing.

Townsend co-founded the chapter with Les White, who compared the powers exgtended to police in SB 1070 to those of other countries around the world.

“There is nothing unique about this,” White said. “We have no problem with people coiming her legally but the state of Arizona just can’t afford to be that generous anymore,” he said.

White said he believe local law enforcement should be allowed to assess the immigration sattus of any person with whom they come into contanct in the normal course of their duties.

“It’s a geographic issue that most of the people suspected of being an illegal alien will be from Mexico.” White said in reference to widespread claims that the bill effectively mandates racial profiling.

Bolten was unavailable for comment following the hearing.

Attorneys will be able to appeal any decisions to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Brian Mori – Tucson Sentinel.

CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO READ THE ORIGINAL PUBLISHED STORY, though I reccomend reading the typed version above for a purer version. Tucson Sentinel’s Dylan Smith was invaluable cleaning, and fitting the story for publication but was not up-to-date on changes that had been made to SB1070 before the hearing in Phoenix. By the time the bill made it to court, Senate Committees inserted requirements which required “reasonable suspicion,” for officers to investigate a person’s legal status. Smith insisted on excluding this information. SMITH WAS NOT IN COURT, I was. 

 

 

 

UA Student Council Hosts Forum on State Gun Law

Click to view online story

FEB 11, 2010

Those of you with especially keen memories will remember that back in September (interestingly enough, the last time a firearm-related resolution came before ASUA), journalism student Brian Mori offered a guest report of the GPSC meeting where a walk-out was considered. We’re fortunate enough to have him back again, to offer an actual news report – with sourced quotes! and background grafs! –  on last night’s forum, hosted by ASUA. Enjoy (although this will probably not be the final post on the matter).EML

Originally published 2/11/10 on Desert Lamp http://www.desertlamp.com

There were more than just students among the crowd of about 50 gathered Tuesday night in the Santa Rita room of the UA’s Student Union Memorial Center to discuss what stance student representatives will take on current Arizona gun legislation.

The Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona hosted the hour-and-a-half long call to the audience after heated objections from students during last week’s senate meeting.

Last week, ASUA proposed a statement against Arizona Senate Bill 1011, which would expressly allow university faculty with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus.

The resolution also requested an exception to the current policy allowing for concealed-carry permit owners to keep guns in cars parked on campus lots, overturning a previous resolution passed last September.

ASUA’s proposed resolution echoed opposition by University of Arizona President Robert Shelton, the University of Arizona Police Department, and the Arizona Board of Regents that guns simply do not belong on campus.

The Senators were silent as the undergraduate and graduate students, a couple alumni, a UA professor, and co-owners of a Tucson based firearms safety instruction company spoke of their opinions of the legislation and ASUA’s position.

The remarks were limited to three minutes a person, and the speakers raised several questions including: the likelihood of increasing firearms related accidents, the need for professors to intervene in mass-shooting scenarios, a lack of a campus attack response plan, the state and federal constitutions, and ASUA’s role in speaking on behalf of students.

“Any sort of shooting is absolutely unacceptable but I’d rather have 1 or two dead bodies to 30,” Josh Walden, a student at both Pima and the UA said before the forum.

Most who supported the legislation, including Walden, cited the mass murders at Virginia Tech and Columbine as examples of where students and teachers were defenseless against depraved assailants.

In 2002, a University of Arizona medical student shot and killed 3 professors before committing suicide. Speakers at Tuesday’s discussion forum disagreed on whether or not he had a concealed weapons permit.

“Teachers sign contracts that they are first and foremost responsible to protect students. That’s why we have fire drills, tornado drills, and bomb drills,” said Erin Goheen, a UA student.

Currently, all weapons – including firearms – are banned from Arizona college campuses, although the Arizona state constitution forbids preventing an individual from bearing arms in defense of their person.

“In reality, weapons and firearms are already being carried in and out of classrooms everyday,” Walden added later. “That sign (prohibiting guns) is not going to stop them from pulling the trigger.”

Sarah Button, a UA alum and Tucson middle school teacher said that it’s more important to improve weapons permit background checks to include mental health screenings before giving professors rights to carry guns where students cannot.

Button said professors with guns are more likely to confuse police or others trying to control a dangerous situation. “What if (professors) don’t see who is the shooter, and five people spring out and they still don’t know who to shoot?”

Professor Peter De Mars, an Aerospace and Mechanical Engineer adjunct professor, was the only faculty to speak at the meeting. He said he’d rather see more done to educate teachers and students to respond without the use of weapons should the unthinkable occur.

“If I asked my class if they felt safer if I carried a gun, they’d say no,” he said with a laugh. “The idea that a professor could be in the spot where they could protect students in 12 million square feet (the UA campus) is an anomaly.”

De Mars said he’d feel safer with keys to lock his classroom door than a gun.

Several of the speakers pointed out that Arizona statute exempts adults who leave weapons out of sight in locked vehicles on school grounds other than universities from prosecution for weapons misconduct.

“The people that are out there without the (Carry Concealed Weapons Permit), are the problem,” said Tim Popp, firearms instructor and owner of Double Tap Firearms, a Tucson safety and firearms instruction company.

Double-Tap co-owner Shawn Pop said that those who want to kill mass amounts of people pick public places where they know people are unarmed. “Education is the key to everything,” he said. “The CCW permit is the way to get educated.”

“The whole purpose of having a CCW is that people don’t know that you have a gun.” said Katie Pavlich, a UA journalism senior and one of five College Republicans in attendance. “The people who have the CCW have the training, the knowledge, there’s a reason why they went through the class, paid the fee, and got their fingerprints taken.”

James Allen, a UA sophomore said that giving professors guns would make them primary target for someone on a rampage or someone trying to get a weapon.

“If the guy knows that, then yeah, teacher’s going down first,” he said. “I don’t like supporting things that limit constitutional amendments, but I just can’t shake that guns don’t belong on campus.”

Allen is also ASUA safety director but did not speak on behalf of the student government Tuesday.

“I find ASUA’s resolution to be inappropriate,” Robert Rosinksi told the Senate. “You represent the student body and obviously extreme division here.”

Rosinski is founder of Students for the Second Amendment, an non-recognized club on the UA campus. “You shouldn’t go through with it. When you have hard facts that something’s dangerous, then you can do it,” he said.

After the forum, MacKenzie said he didn’t think ASUA adequately reflected the student population’s opinion of guns on campus. He said he believed that if people understood the training required for a concealed weapons permit, they’d be more likely to support the legislation.

“We have a lot to talk about tomorrow,” said Senator Hillary Davidson.

The senators will meet Wednesday in the Ventana Room of the SUMC at 5 to discuss and vote on whether or not to pass their previously released statement.

“They’ll probably talk about what they thought but nothing official will be decided until tomorrow, because of Arizona open meeting laws.” said Executive Vice President Emily Fritze, who presides ex-officio over the senate.

Fritze encouraged students to come speak during tomorrow’s Senate meeting call to the audience.

The Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona hosted the hour-and-a-half long call to the audience after heated objections from students during last week’s senate meeting, at which ASUA proposed a statement against Arizona Senate Bill 1011, which would expressly allow university faculty with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus. The resolution also requests an exception to the current policy allowing for concealed-carry permit owners to keep guns in cars parked on campus lots, overturning a previous resolution passed last September.

ASUA’s proposed resolution echoed opposition by University of Arizona President Robert Shelton, the University of Arizona Police Department, and the Arizona Board of Regents that guns simply do not belong on campus.

The remarks were limited to three minutes a person, and the speakers raised several questions including: the likelihood of increasing firearms related accidents, the need for professors to intervene in mass-shooting scenarios, a lack of a campus attack response plan, the state and federal constitutions, and ASUA’s role in speaking on behalf of students.

Most who supported the legislation, including Walden, cited the mass murders at Virginia Tech and Columbine as examples of where students and teachers were defenseless against depraved assailants.

In 2002, a University of Arizona medical student shot and killed 3 professors before committing suicide. Speakers at Tuesday’s discussion forum disagreed on whether or not he had a concealed weapons permit.

“Teachers sign contracts that they are first and foremost responsible to protect students. That’s why we have fire drills, tornado drills, and bomb drills,” said Erin Goheen, a UA student.

Sarah Button, a UA alum and Tucson middle school teacher said that it’s more important to improve weapons permit background checks to include mental health screenings before giving professors rights to carry guns where students cannot.

Button said professors with guns are more likely to confuse police or others trying to control a dangerous situation. “What if (professors) don’t see who is the shooter, and five people spring out and they still don’t know who to shoot?”

“If I asked my class if they felt safer if I carried a gun, they’d say no,” he said with a laugh. “The idea that a professor could be in the spot where they could protect students in 12 million square feet (the UA campus) is an anomaly.”

Double-Tap co-owner Shawn Pop said that those who want to kill mass amounts of people pick public places where they know people are unarmed. “Education is the key to everything,” he said. “The CCW permit is the way to get educated.”

James Allen, a UA sophomore said that giving professors guns would make them primary target for someone on a rampage or someone trying to get a weapon.

Allen is also ASUA safety director but did not speak on behalf of the student government Tuesday.

“I find ASUA’s resolution to be inappropriate,” Robert Rosinksi told the Senate. “You represent the student body and obviously extreme division here.”

“We have a lot to talk about tomorrow,” said Senator Hillary Davidson.

The senators will meet Wednesday in the Ventana Room of the SUMC at 5 to discuss and vote on whether or not to pass their previously released statement.

Fritze encouraged students to come speak during tomorrow’s Senate meeting call to the audience.

Transferring schools might get easier

Originally published Arizona Daily Wildcat 1/28/10

If passed, a bill presented Wednesday at the Arizona Senate would require state community colleges and universities to standardize the names and course numbers of 100- and 200-level classes to ease registration for students who transfer within the state.

Sen. John Huppenthal, R-Chandler, state senate education chairman and chairman of the Senate Education Accountability and Reform Committee introduced SB 1186.

He explained the purpose was to make transferring credits for approved equivalent courses easier between community and university campuses.

“You have thousands of courses and some of them are pretty straightforward,” Huppenthal said. He added that the idea that calculus at UA is different than calculus at ASU is ridiculous.

Huppenthal credited the Arizona Students Association for helping draft the legislation.

“This is something we’ve been working on for a decade and a half,” he said. “(But the Arizona Students Association) had a lot of the work done in advance.”

Ben Henderson, member of the ASA Board of Directors, hopes the bill will pass through to the Senate without problems.

“We noticed that students have had a lot of trouble transferring their credits. I think we’re expecting a smooth ride the whole way through,” said Henderson. “Whenever they need a student opinion we’ll be right there to give it.”

Henderson was at the capitol in Phoenix for the Senate Education Accountability and Reform Committee’s decision. “We’re all really excited about how smoothly it went. The vote was 7-0,” he said.

The bill still has the journey through the caucus and then back to committee before it goes to the floor of the Senate, but Huppenthal said he expects it to do well. “It’s just a phenomenal idea, the question is nothing is ever simple,” he added.

Henderson, an ASU student, said the only questions raised by the senators were about how to implement the specifics.

Huppenthal is running for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  If elected to the position, he will also sit as an ex-officio member on the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs education policy and cost.

“Taking unnecessary classes that don’t help to get your degree is an incredible waste. I think establishing this will be healthy. It may need some follow-up legislation,” he said.

Associated Students of the University of Arizona South President Andres Gabaldon said that SB 1186 will greatly help students on the non-traditional college path.

UA grad runs for state house

Originally published Arizona Daily Wildcat 1/27/10

Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
UA alumnus Dustin Cox, 24, is running for state office a year-and-a-half after graduating, running on the platform of creating jobs, health care and education.
Just over a year and a half after graduating from the UA, Dustin Cox, 24, is making good on his promise to run for state office.
Cox graduated from Skyline High School in Mesa, Ariz., in 2004.
He was awarded the prestigious Flinn Scholarship for academic excellence and community service, which he could use at any Arizona public university.
Cox said the scholarship, which he valued at about $60,000, persuaded him to stay in-state.
“I was on my way to Stanford when I got the Flinn Scholarship, and you don’t give up the Flinn,” he said.
Cox worked with UA student government to bring cohesive social justice programs to college students, which he believed were missing at the UA.
He developed A-Town at UA, which is a branch of Anytown Arizona, Inc., a national nonprofit youth leadership organization devoted to promoting social awareness, diversity and involvement for high school students.
“I found the money from all over the place — private and corporate donations, and the UA,” Cox said. “(College students) have the passion, the energy and the resources at our institutions of higher education to really wield a lot of influence and make some changes in policy and practice, and make a huge impact on our community.”
Cox said A-Town programs let students work for causes that interest them.
“It’s kinda like a boot camp for folks who want to make a difference,” Cox said. “No matter where you’re from, what you’ve done, (A-Town) educates you about issues and inspires you to do things about them.”
Since earning his Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology, Cox has served as executive director at Anytown Arizona, Inc. and Anytown America.
The Arizona Daily Star named Cox one of Tucson’s top 40 professionals under age 40 in 2009.

Campaign platform
Education, health care and creating jobs through alternative energy are Cox’s main focuses.
“These are things that just plain make sense, they shouldn’t be wedge issues for the parties but things we should be able to accomplish,” Cox said.
Though Cox said he’s optimistic about the future of government both at the federal and local levels, he thinks bitter philosophical feuding between extremists has distracted Arizona politicians from preventing the state’s fiscal catastrophe.
“It’s such partisan rancor up there right now,” Cox said. “The Republican leadership is going around saying, ‘If we cut taxes, it’s going to make everything better.’”
Cox said he fears the legislature’s decision to cut hundreds of millions in education funding not only scared away prospective corporations in need of an educated work force, but may have also forced current companies to relocate.
“We should be investing in the largest economic engines in the state instead of cutting them,” he said.

Transparency
“I have a lot of hope in what I see in advancements in transparency and ethics,” Cox said. “The Obama administration has opened up truckloads of information.”
He is proud of the UA’s promotion of gender equality in fundamental ways, like instituting gender-neutral bathrooms.
He supports UA President Robert Shelton’s decisions during the UA transformation, but also encourages administrators to consider reducing their salaries as well.
He said the UA and the state of Arizona have some catching up to do in terms of utilizing technology making government operations more transparent.
“Transparency is laying everything out on the table — who you’re meeting with, why you’re meeting with them and the results of those meetings,” Cox said.